Reiki translates to “Universal Life Force” from Japanese. Now the word stands for a system of healing and self-empowerment popular all over the world. Ki is the name of life energy in Japan. Other cultures with ancient roots in the metaphysical have similar words for this force. In China its called Chi. The discipline of Tai-Chi works with this energy. The Hindu traditions, from Yoga to Aryuveda, Indian Natural Medicine, call it prana. The Hawaiian kahunas, or medicine men called it mana. It is the animating spirit to all living things. Star Wars fans in our modern pop culture might now call it the Force. They are all similar concepts for life energy.

Usually through the act of touching another, a Reiki practitioner channels this life force for the recipient’s healing. The recipient’s own body draws in the energy, like they are sucking a straw. The practitioner is like the straw. They are only the channel. The source of this energy is the limitless supply of life force in the universe. The energy is used to stimulate their own healing systems, used by the body to go where it is needed most. The immune system is activated and bolstered. Cells receive more power to heal wounds and defend the body from parasites. Reiki quickens the detoxification of the body of all poisons. Reiki also works on levels other than the physical. It works on the emotional, mental and spiritual components of the recipient to hopefully get to the root of the problem. Although everyone responds to a treatment differently, recipients of this healing energy report they are calmer, less stressed and generally feel better. Some relax more, while others feel energized.

Reiki differs from other forms of energy healing like therapeutic touch, pranic healing or magnified healing because the recipient is in control. They can never “overdose” on energy because once they have enough, the process unconsciously stops. Reiki is safe and gentle. The practitioner is not using his own energy, and thus does not get tired or feel like he is taking on the ailments of the client. Reiki practitioners get “hot hands” when working, and recipients report feelings increased warms or tingling during a session. During a session, the practitioner will hold various hand positions on the body while the recipient lies on a table. No massage or manipulation of tissue is involved. Reiki is strictly an energy process, although there are some massage therapists who do Reiki as well. Once you are trained in Reiki, simple touch triggers the energy, so massage therapist who do Reiki are always channeling some energy if the recipient is in need of it.

In my own experience, Reiki really does work on all levels, wherever it is needed most. Although this is not common, during sessions I have had clients who spontaneously experience memories from the past with vividness. Most are traumatic memories from childhood or other stressful times. They feel resolved on the issue, but really never dealt with it. Others rekindle pleasant memories of love, friendship and happiness. My belief is the Reiki is working on healing the emotional nature, and releasing or triggering what they need for their highest good. I’ve found not only is the recipients body in charge of the energy transfer, but their highest aspect, their unconscious, super conscious, higher self or whatever word you choose to use, is the one truly in charge.

For Americans, Reiki comes to us through Hawaii, and has its modern origins in Japan. Dr. Mikao Usui is credited with rediscovering this system of healing, which he called the general practice Reiki, but his own teaching the Usui System of Natural Healing. Many myths surround this man who made this remarkable discovery near the end of the nineteenth century. In the American version of his tale, Usui was a Christian scholar, who wanted to know how Jesus and Buddha healed. He studies the scriptures, both Christian, then Buddhist, then eventually the Hindu sutras. He was unsuccessful. Finally he went to Mount Kurama, a holy place, for divine inspiration and a 21 day fast and retreat. On the last day he was blessed with divine knowledge of healing through the Reiki symbols. Some stories say he was hit with a lightning bolt while on the mountain, and it gave him the power and knowledge. Modern scholars argue many facts of the story, including that he was a Christian, since he was buried in a Buddhist temple. They also debate if he was actually a doctor, either M.D. or Ph.D., since there was no record of it. He is truly a doctor in the sense that he dedicated his life to healing. It has been speculated that Usui simply studied with a sect of monks who knew the secrets of healing, and he brought it to the mainstream world as his own divine inspiration. Most now feel Reiki’s ancient origins, if it is truly a “rediscovered” formula, are found in Tibet or India.

Regardless, from his students, Reiki made its way to Hawaii and eventually to mainland America, and the rest of the world. Different organizations and traditions of Reiki have sprung up. Some seek to preserve Usui’s teachings exactly with no variation, while others bring new information into this system.

While taking a Reiki course, the Reiki Master attunes you to the energy through a simple ceremony most often involving symbols of healing and breath. Reiki Master simply means Reiki teacher, as teachers in Japan were called master. The term implies no spiritual superiority. A Reiki Master is simply one who can teach Reiki. Very little teaching is involved. Most fill their classes with history, theory and practice time to occupy the rational side of the brain, but once you have the Reiki attunement, you can immediately and easily channel the energy for the rest of your life. The Reiki master holds this special frequency, and as if you are a radio receiver, he tunes you to the frequency of the pure energy. The attunement simply aligns your personal energy to be a channel for Reiki. If one has not had an attunement from someone who has this energy, they are not doing Reiki. There are many forms of healing that are very similar and can be just as effective in different ways, but these techniques are often confused with Reiki.

Once you are attuned to Reiki, the benefits are enormous. You have access to healing energy at any time. Touch is your vehicle of healing, for yourself and others. While driving into work, or stuck in a traffic jam, place one hand on your leg. The Reiki starts flowing. Do Reiki while watching TV or when on the phone. Maintain your health in this hectic world. When feeling stressed, angry or depressed, use Reiki to feel better. If you have a headache, or any other aches and pains, Reiki them away. This healing technique is not a substitute for conventional medicine, but it supports recovery and accelerates healing. Many hospitals now have Reiki available pre and post operation. Chiropractors and other health care facilitators are looking into the benefits of Reiki.

You don’t have to decide to be a healer and give up your day job to do Reiki. Most Reiki practitioners are not nurses, doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors or healers. Many are drawn to the healing arts after Reiki, but the vast amount of Reiki practitioners out there are ordinary people with ordinary jobs, from executives to house wives and everything in between. The first and only person you are truly responsible to heal on all levels is yourself. Reiki helps you heal yourself. If you can aid others on the way, that is a wonderful gift, but ultimately they are healing themselves. You are only providing a boost of energy.